Let's Shrug!

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Hello, ladies!

I was journaling today, and then my response to the prompt I was working on turned into a rant / expose / manifesto about why I think it is so important for women to start their own businesses and follow their passions.

The original prompt was inspired by Amanda Frances, and was: "Why is what you do important? Who does it serve? How does it change their lives? How does you doing your great work in life affect the people you work with, and their families, communities, their world, and the world in general? How is you doing your great work in life positive, full of love, and great for everybody?"

And here is my answer turned rant!

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What I do is so important because it not only changes lives, but it changes destinies and dynasties. If a woman is able to start her dream business, it changes her life in such a positive, profound way.

She can wake up in the morning, super excited about moving her dream forward. She works during the day, building something beautiful and worthy of praise and admiration. She touches people's lives, leaving a trail of beauty behind her.

Her family not only benefits financially- which is so important- but they also get to witness what it looks like to be strong and passionate and motivated and driven. She inspires others to do the same- without even saying a word.

Giving women the knowledge of how to start their own businesses raises up women in general on this planet. The more we acknowledge what is possible for ourselves- both individually and as half of the entire population of this planet- the more balanced and just and fair and loving and just downright better the whole world becomes for everyone. 

When we start to feel and experience our own self-worth, we stop allowing others to treat us in ways that don't honor or acknowledge that worthiness. The more we stand in our power and stop accepting certain gender roles and responsibilities, and stop accepting as truth certain cultural, family, and religious beliefs about women being "less than" or "subservient to," the better our personal lives become, and the better the world becomes for future generations. 

The more beauty and goodness and awesomeness we create, the more beautiful and good and awesome the world becomes. How can anything other than that be true?

I believe that women are just as capable and just as responsible for following their dreams and growing successful businesses and living full and independent lives as men are. Being a woman does not make you a second class citizen, and no avenue should be closed to you (nor any role expected of you) solely because you are female. As a woman, you have an equal right to pursue your dreams and passions. 

When we don't shine our light, the world remains in darkness. When we don't change and expand, the world doesn't shift course- and I believe that we need some major course-corrections on this planet right now!

I believe that we don't have to do huge, unreachable charity, NGO, telethon-worthy things to change the world- although, if you feel inspired to do huge things, then, by all means, do it! But all you really have to do to change the world for the better is to follow your passions and your heart. Find that still, small voice of you deep down inside- that voice that consistently gets shushed so that we can fulfill other people's agendas and supply other people's needs and wants- and listen to what YOU need and want. 

Stop treating people as if they were incapable of doing things for themselves! Is your husband physically capable of doing half of the housework if you are both working full time? Yes! Then why do you (and possibly him, and your culture) expect you to do most, if not all, of it?

Are your children capable of helping out around the house? Of course they are! They are so much more capable then we give them credit for nowadays. Delegate responsibilities that are appropriate to them.

Is it reasonable that you always give up your plans and desires to serve other people and make their lives better at the expense of your own? Hell no! There is a ton of cultural and religious guild around this issue, but just stop and think for a moment- would a man feel guilty for answering "Hell no!" to that question? Probably not. Men are allowed and encouraged to pursue, and women are expected to just be a support and servant to someone else's agenda.

It's time for that to stop.

Am I saying that you shouldn't help other people? Of course not. This is about a quest to find balance that acknowledges you humanity and desires as equal along the way. It's not that you shouldn't ever help other people. It's that you should find balance in the giving.

"But I feel selfish!" you say. Why? Why do we allow ourselves to feel selfish and guilty for choosing to live our own lives?

Don't you have a self? Why would trying to hide and squish that self be considered a good and worthy thing? 

Is there a balance? Are the people you are squashing yourself for squashing themselves for you sometimes (in fairly equal measure)? Or are you the main or only one who gives and gives and gives?

Is expecting balance and fairness selfish? Or is it just rational?

Is doing what you are called to do on this planet selfish? Or is it a responsibility you have towards yourself?

Is it selfish to receive sometimes, rather than always giving? Or is balance a necessary part of a healthy and fulfilled life?

Is it wrong or weak to receive? Of course not! 

Also, is it wrong to have boundaries? NO! Boundaries are necessary for your success! And, remember, the more successful you are, the more successful the world and everyone around you becomes by default. 

Does you being successful take something from someone that belongs to them? Of course not! You are a good person, right? You would never steal or cheat to get ahead, so why would you treat yourself like a criminal for enjoying the success that you have honestly worked so hard for?

Let.'s take a moment and examine that last question more closely: "Does you being successful take something from someone that belongs to them? As women, we generally get hung up on the "take something from someone" part of that thought.

"Well, if I work on my business while my mind is still fresh at 6PM, then I won't be able to have dinner ready for the family at 7PM," you think.  

Is "having dinner ready at 7PM" something that belongs to your family (and, secondly, is "having dinner ready" a responsibility that is ultimately yours? Perhaps it is, and you have a family arrangement where dinner is within your half of the family responsibilities, but if you are shouldering all the responsibilities, then this is not fair or balanced)? Are you somehow taking something that isn't yours by not having dinner ready at 7PM?

Of course not! "Dinner ready at 7PM" is an expectation that, somewhere along the line, you or someone else set, and that you have agreed to go along with. But expectations can be changed- and it's easy! Just say, "It doesn't work this way any more." 

No guilt. No hour long explanations necessary. This no longer works for you as you seek to accomplish your goals. And, in many cases, offering an explanation or conciliatory gesture is completely unnecessary, and only contributes to perpetuating the belief that you are doing something wrong by changing the arrangement.  

But, if you wish, it is within your rights and powers to offer an alternative. Perhaps you sere dinner at 8PM now (just tell them it's European!). Maybe some days your family just reheats leftovers or gets takeout for dinner. Maybe you start sharing meal-prep responsibilities with other members of the family. 

Does this mean you have failed by not being able to do "all the things"? Are you a horrible person for not being able to handle working a 9-5, starting a business, taking Timmy to soccer, and Julie to piano lessons, and deal with the dry cleaning, and get the oil changed on the car, and vacuum all the floors and clean all the bathrooms and check all the homework... and.... and... and...

No! You are definitely not a failure! You are a human being in need of balance. 

Serving dinner at 7PM (or 8PM, or at all) is a gift. You don't have to give gifts- hence, the gift-ness!

Of course, if you are a parent, then one of your jobs is ensuring that your kids don't starve, but how you go about that doesn't have to involve a three course, freshly prepared meal served at 7PM every single night. There are literally dozens of other ways that you can prevent starvation while honoring your needs and desires and passions and dreams.

You have lied to yourself if you have convinced yourself that a freshly prepared three course meal has to be ready every night at 7PM or else you are a bad mother or have shirked your life responsibilities. You have lied to yourself by convincing yourself that everyone else's needs have to come before yours or else you are selfish. You have lied to yourself in convincing yourself that your truth, your happiness, your value, your worth, your time, your energy, your ideas, and your passions are somehow worth less than or are less important than anyone else's. 

It's time to start facing the truth.

What other areas in life are you lying to yourself? Where else can you start questioning the status quo and actually living from a place of truth and self- respect?

Don't you see that living in truth is what it takes to achieve success and accomplish your dreams? Don't you see that arbitrary rules and expectations (and, let's be honest- most of the rules and expectations we experience in life are COMPLETELY ARBITRARY!) create unnecessary burdens and rob you of your power, your potential, and your life?

It's time to rise up, ladies. 

It's time to stop carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders (how did Apollo ever get credit for that? It's been us all along!). It is time to be what we are on this world to be, and accomplish our dreams.

And, when you are able to step into equality and balance, then the "giving to others" part will be so much easier and less draining, because you are being intentional and selective about it. You will learn to both give, and receive in balance, and you will start to be able to say "No" to unhealthy expectations and people. 

You will start to bring out the strengths of those around you because you will stop catering to their weaknesses. Your light will illuminate other people's lives and potentials and areas of passion.

So, be "selfish." Acknowledge your worth, your equality, your humanity, your dreams, and your passions. Be "selfish" and change the world- change it for the better!

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I will end with a paraphrased Ayn Rand quote from Atlas Shrugged:

"'If you saw yourself / womankind, the giant who holds the world on her shoulders, if you saw that she stood, blood running down her chest, her knees buckling, her arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of her strength,

and the greater her effort, the heavier the world bore down upon her shoulders- what would you tell her to do?'

'I... don't know. What... could she do? What would you tell her?'

'To shrug.'

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It is time to shrug off all the unnecessary, unfair, burdens that people have selfishly put upon you. It is time to stand... stand in your equality, stand in your passions, stand in your truth. 

It is time to stand up for your truth. Time to shine your light. Time to be there for other women who are doing the same. It is time to create safety in our right to live equal, fulfilling lives. It is time to stop feeling guilty for things that don't deserve our remorse. We are freaking half of the population, ladies. We need to start doing our part in crafting a better world and demanding our place in it. 

Shrug. 

Then go out there and find your success.